Black flies and ticks are on the rise. With this comes concerns about potential bites from either of these pests. If you have plans to camp, visit the lake, or go on lots of hikes this summer, then it’s important to familiarize yourself with certain bug bites. Specifically, a black fly vs. tick bite on a dog.
Bug bites can transmit diseases and cause general discomfort. Treating and preventing both black fly and tick bites on a dog is key to a happy and healthy summer with your pup.
Here’s everything you need to know about a black fly vs tick bite on a dog, from start to finish.
Before you read this guide, “How to Tell the Difference Between a Black Fly vs Tick Bite on a Dog,” check out: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs Naturally! (2023) and The 6 Best Flea And Tick Collars For Dogs! (2023).
What Is a Black Fly?
Before we delve into specific bites, it’s important to know what a black fly is. Black flies are small, blood-sucking insects that gravitate toward humans, livestock, and wildlife. While they are similar to mosquitos, they do not transmit diseases within the United States.
However, they have been known to transmit Onchocerca volvulus in other parts of the world, which causes “river blindness” in Africa, South America, and Central America. While they are not considered a public health risk in the United States, they have the capacity to be.
There are only six types of black flies that feed on humans on the East Coast. They can be found throughout the US, but are typically most active during spring and summer. In fact, in certain areas of the United States, black fly bites can be so extreme that they disrupt typical summer activities.
They also pose a significant threat to animals and livestock. They can transmit disease-causing worms, suffocate animals by flying into their throats, cause exsanguination, and even cause toxic shock due to the saliva injected via bite.
There are over 1,700 different types of black flies all around the world, with 255 of those being located in North America. These vary from state to state. They are larger than their housefly counterparts, with houseflies being about 3 to 6mm long while black flies are around 7mm long.
Additionally, female black flies need blood from humans, animals, pets, and livestock to procreate successfully. It helps the development of eggs.
What Is a Tick?
Most people have heard of ticks, and most of us will come across them during our lifetimes. These annoying blood-suckers can transmit Lyme disease and rank second in the world of bug-to-human disease transmission (right behind mosquitos).
A type of arachnid, ticks are directly related to spiders, scorpions, and mites. Small and pesky, these tiny bugs spread disease with ease due to their size. Since they’re small, they can go virtually undetected in nature — until they bite, that is.
It takes several days for a tick to feed, which is one of the reasons they can spread disease so easily. The longer they attach, the higher the risk of transmission.
A tick goes through four life stages. Of these four life stages, three of them require a host to feed upon. In the first stage, a tick is still an egg. During the second stage, once the egg hatches, it must feed on a viable host.
In the third stage, they grow from larva to nymph. In the fourth stage, they feed on a host and grow into full-fledged adult ticks. Once they reach sexual maturity, female ticks will begin to lay eggs after feeding.
Ticks can only crawl. They lie in wait at the tops of grass blades or shrubs and wait for an appropriate host to latch onto. It’s entirely common to pick up ticks in warmer, grassier areas during the spring and summer. Tick season varies on climate, season, and location, which is why it’s important to take preventive measures year-round.
There are several types of ticks in the United States:
- American dog tick
- Black-legged tick
- Brown dog tick
- Groundhog tick
- Gulf Coast tick
- Lone Star tick
- Rocky Mountain wood tick
- Asian long-horned tick
- Soft tick
- Western black-legged tick
What Do Black Fly Bites Look Like?
A black fly bite can be uncomfortable for your dog, but also uncomfortable for you to find. Typically, a black fly bite is a flat, red splotch that can mimic ringworm at first glance. Usually, you will find a black fly bite on your dog’s underbelly. They can be treated at home with soap and water, hydrocortisone cream, ice packs, and baking soda pastes.
In most cases, they won’t harm your dog, but rare, life-threatening reactions can happen. Monitor your pup for signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis if you find a black fly bite on them. Early intervention is critical in the event of anaphylaxis.
What Do Tick Bites Look Like?
If you’ve found a tick on your dog, or suspect they’ve been bitten by a tick, finding a bite mark should be easy.
When a dog gets bitten by a tick, the area around the bite will look very similar to a mosquito bite. They start to develop upon being bitten and can last for several days after removal. In most cases, they’ll subside on their own.
It’s crucial to wash the affected area with soap, water, and rubbing alcohol after removal. This can prevent the bite from becoming infected. If the bite becomes infected, consult with your veterinarian about possible treatments.
Symptoms of Black Fly Bites
Black fly bites often happen when black flies are near, especially in the warmer months during outdoor activities.
Symptoms of black fly bites vary, but generally, you can expect the following:
- Crusting of the affected area
- Bleeding when scratched
- Possible infection
Symptoms of Tick Bites
Tick bites are common during the warmer months as grass and shrubs thrive. Ticks will lie in wait for a proper host. Once they latch on, they can transmit zoonotic diseases.
It’s important that if you get bit by a tick, you remove it immediately. Using clean tweezers, grab the tick at the base of its head, and pull it out. Avoid twisting.
From there, dispose of the tick in a container filled with rubbing alcohol. This will kill the tick but allow you to take a picture of it to show your veterinarian. Then, sanitize the area with soap, water, and rubbing alcohol.
Some symptoms of tick bites include:
- Welts or rashes
- Crusting of the affected area
- Bleeding when scratched
- Possible infection
How to Prevent Fly and Tick Bites
Prevention is a core part of treatment for anything. One of the best ways to avoid getting bit by a tick or spider this spring or summer is to take preventive measures. Without preventive measures, your dog is left vulnerable to fly and tick bites.
Use Preventive Treatments
Flea and tick protection should be used year-round.
Tick season isn’t universal and varies greatly depending on the season, weather, climate, and region. Tick season can start sooner in one area of the world and much later in another. Since it varies greatly, veterinary experts recommend using flea and tick protection year-round.
Topical medications that are physically applied to your dog’s skin can help greatly deter and kill ticks. Typically, these medications are applied between the shoulder blades or at the base of the neck and work their way into the skin to prevent tick and flea bites.
Limit Time Outside
Another foolproof way to prevent black fly and tick bites on a dog is to limit your time outside. If you can, try to keep your dog indoors during high season. This can prevent unnecessary tick and flea bites.
While this isn’t always possible, it will drastically reduce the chance of your dog getting bitten. Additionally, limiting time outside in the warmer months also limits the risk of heat exhaustion. If you must go outside, be sure to use preventive treatments and dog-safe repellent sprays.
Use Repellent Sprays
Human bug repellent sprays are popular in the spring and summer for their ability to repel pesky bugs that love to feed. But did you know that there are dog-safe repellent sprays as well? Dog-safe repellent sprays work similarly to human repellent sprays since they form a barrier over the skin and hair that is unappetizing to bugs.
However, it’s important to use a dog-safe repellent spray, as many of the chemicals in human products can be toxic to dogs if they lick at their fur. Aim to buy a spray with peppermint oil, eugenol, or cedar oil to avoid issues with ingestion.
If you’re unsure about what type of bug-repellent spray to buy for your dog, talk to your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
On a dog, a tick bite looks very similar to a mosquito bite. They’re raised, red, and can be very itchy. This generally subsides within a week.
While black fly bites typically heal without treatment on dogs, hydrocortisone cream, cool compresses, and ice packs can help relieve irritation. Home remedies reduce the chance of scratching or itching, which can result in infection.
Black fly bites are typically located on a dog’s underbelly or groin area. They become large, red welts that look like splotches. They’re usually fairly easy to spot.
Yes, black fly bites will swell on dogs. Hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl, and ice packs can help relieve and reduce swelling.
If you see your dog persistently scratching at a certain area, then they may have a tick. Put on gloves and carefully examine the area closely. If you feel a slight bump, then it could be a tick. Examine the area in a well-lit room, and you should be able to find the tick.
Black fly bites can cause general discomfort for several days on a dog, but they shouldn’t persist past a week. If the bite persists past a week, consult your veterinarian, as it might be infected.
Symptoms of tick bites in dogs can vary, but generally, you should expect the following: redness at the site of the bite, itchiness, possible crusting and oozing, bleeding, or welts or rashes.
If a tick has made your dog its host, you can expect them to react fairly quickly. Sometimes, ticks can go undetected, but most dogs react to the affected area immediately.
Conclusion for “How to Tell the Difference Between a Black Fly vs Tick Bite on a Dog”
With this guide, you should be able to spot the difference between a black fly vs tick bite on a dog.
In short, a tick bite will look more like a mosquito bite, while a black fly bite will be a red splotch. If you’re worried about your dog’s bite, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for peace of mind.
If you find this guide, “How to Tell the Difference Between a Black Fly vs Tick Bite on a Dog,” helpful, check out:
- How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Vinegar: Step-by-Step Guide! (2023)
- How to Remove a Tick From a Dog With Vaseline: Step By Step Guide! (2023)
- How to Remove a Tick from a Dog Without Tweezers?
Learn more by watching “🐶❓9 QUESTIONS about TICK BITES in DOGS” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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